Comic cover called out for indecency
MARVEL has pulled a forthcoming comic cover after it was criticised for “sexualising” the 15-year-old girl who is the new Iron Man. The variant cover showed Riri Williams, a science genius who reverse engineers one of Iron Man’s suits in her dorm room at MIT, in a revealing crop top, and drew sharp criticism online. “It’s as though they decided a teenage girl’s face was fine, but let’s attach a more grown-up body to that face, because she’s not a true female superhero until you can imagine having sex with her,” wrote Teresa Jusino at comics site the Mary Sue, calling on Marvel to “stop sexualising female teenage characters like Riri Williams”.
“Is this how people see 15-year-old black girls? I keep seeing these cover variants for Riri Williams and maybe [in] two or three she has looked 15,” wrote Twitter user @Steph_I_Will, while others called the cover, by artist J Scott Campbell, “age-inappropriate objectification”.
Marvel has subsequently withdrawn the Campbell variant cover, which was exclusive to Midtown Comics, and released images of interior art from the comic by the artist Stefano Caselli, showing a very different version of the character. Another variant cover by Campbell, in which the character is wearing the Iron Man armour, is still on sale and out in November.
Campbell called the decision “unfortunate” and said that he “simply attempted to draw a sassy, coming-of-age young woman”. “I greatly appreciate the noticeable uptick of support today in the wake of the fallout of this faux controversy,” he wrote on Twitter. “I gave her a sassy ‘attitude’ … ‘sexualising’ was not intended. This reaction is odd.”
But Brian Michael Bendis, the writer of the series, said he was “very glad they are not going forward with the cover”.
In response to a question from a fan, Bendis said he had not seen the cover until it was made public on Twitter last week, and while he had “liked” the face drawn by Campbell as part of his work in progress, he did not like the final version.
“Specialty covers are not in my purview and it was being produced separately from the work of the people involved in making the comic. Not to pass the buck but that’s the fact. If I had seen a sketch or something I would have voiced similar concerns,” Bendis wrote. “I am certain the next version will be amazing.”
Marvel’s new iteration of Iron Man features Riri Williams, a black teenaged girl, as the title heroine. This cover has been pulled after the “sexualized” depiction drew outrage.